Best Practices for Optimizing the Opt-In Process

March 17th, 2009 | By Adam Holden-Bache | No Comments

checkbox_redpencilTo get the most out of your email lists, you’ll want to personalize and target the best recipients by gathering relevant subscriber data.

Unfortunately, one of the most overlooked parts of most email marketing programs is in the opt-in process. How you prepare your opt-in pages and forms will impact your list growth, as well as the quality of your list.

The Opt-In Page

During the opt-in process, asking for too much can deter subscriber opt-in. But you certainly can collect more than a name and email address. Consider these simple steps when you collect data, and you’ll find your subscriber list to be stronger and more relevant.

  • Keep it Simple. Your goal is to get the site visitor to opt-in, so don’t clutter the page with any unnecessary information. The page should present a confident, professional business to reinforce the trustworthiness of your brand.
  • Tell the subscribers how you plan to use their data. Disclose the frequency at which you will email them, what kind of messages they can expect and how they can edit or remove themselves from the subscriber list.
  • Create Value. Announce what valuable types of content a user can expect to receive: newsletters, discounts, coupons, sweepstakes announcements, other incentives, etc. For added value, provide special deals or offers only available to newsletter subscribers!
  • Provide a sample. Link to an example of a previous email so users know what to expect.
  • Privacy Policy. Adopt a Privacy Policy and provide a link to it from your opt-in page.

The Opt-In Form

The form itself requires a lot of consideration. You need to capture the data required to segment, personalize and optimize your campaign. However, you don’t want to risk turning away potential opt-ins with a lengthy form. In order to get the best results from your opt-in form, consider these best practices:

  • Ask for only the information you need. At minimum, you should collect first name, last name and email address. If you plan on using other data to segment your lists, such as location, ask for that as well. However, do not ask for data that you do not plan on using. The more you ask for, the more wary the subscriber becomes. You can then follow up with an email asking for more information, or you can ask subscribers for more information when you have a good use for it.
  • Do not pre-check opt-in boxes. You can trick people into signing up, but do you really want subscribers who are on your list only because they have been tricked? This has potential to annoy recipients, increase your spam rates and potentially have legal repercussions. Let the user opt-in him- or herself.
  • Send a welcome/confirmation message. After sign-up, send a confirmation email with a thank you and reiterate how their data will be used. Make them feel secure that they are dealing with a legitimate marketer and that being part of your list will be beneficial to them.

Where to Use Opt-In Forms

The opt-in form can live in many places. However, the more relevant the placement, the better the results will be. Consider the following potential placements for your opt-in forms:

  • Home Page.. If you want to grab the attention of all site visitors, add an opt-in form on your home page, or provide a clear link to it from the home page.
  • During Registration. If you have a registration-based web site, ask for opt-in permission during the registration process.
  • During Download. Do you have something available for download on your site? This is a great place to acquire new subscribers. If you are providing something valuable enough that a user is taking the effort to download it, then they will likely be willing to opt-in to your list as well.
  • During Checkout. Selling something on your site? Provide an opt-in during the check out process. Offer something valuable to those that opt-in during checkout, like a discount on a future purchase.

After the Opt-In

Once you have the data you need, you can use it wisely.

  • Deliver on what you promise. Once you have opt-in subscribers, respect their privacy and continue to deliver relevant, interesting, usable content.
  • Timing is everything. Make sure you have the resources and budget to communicate to your opt-in database on a consistent basis. Make sure there’s not a dramatic time gap between the opt-in and the first communication.
  • Respect your database. Make sure your opt-in subscribers understand they are valuable to you. Respect their privacy and treat them as you would want to be treated.

Optimizing your opt-in process can deliver significant results. Take the time to do it correctly. Try testing different creative, copy and form fields to see which provide the best results. Once you achieve the outcome you desire, take the same time and effort to maximize the value of your messages. Careful preparation of your data and campaigns can lead to great success in email marketing!

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